Confederate president Jefferson Davis is memorialized in the South through myriad monuments and statues. He’s inside the Capitol’s marbled Statuary Hall. His “White House” is open to tourists in Richmond. And there’s a highway in South Carolina named for him.
But at a press conference on Tuesday, in the midst of a national debate over the propriety of Confederate images, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell identified one place where Davis shouldn’t be: the Capitol building in his home state of Kentucky. A statue of Davis stands alongside former President Abraham Lincoln—his Civil War adversary—and other Kentucky-born leaders.
After last week’s deadly shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, images emerged of the suspected gunman’s affinity for the Confederate flag, spurring debate over whether the Confederate symbol should be represented on state property. According to reporters at the news conference, McConnell said that a “more appropriate” location for the Davis statue would be a state museum. This week, McConnell expressed support for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s call to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds in Columbia.
This isn’t the first time that Davis’s place of honor in the Kentucky Capitol has been questioned. Earlier Tuesday, a Kentucky gubernatorial candidate called for its removal, and last year, a former state treasurer started an online petition to replace Davis’s statue with a memorial to boxer Muhammed Ali, who was born in Louisville.
“Every day, Americans of all political stripes are working to transcend the scars left by slavery and its aftermath,” the former treasurer, Jonathan Miller, wrote in a blog post in November. “And every day, walking through our Commonwealth’s cathedral, our most important citizens—from the officials who lead the state, to the schoolchildren who visit our capital—pass by the white statue that daily pours salt into our nation’s deepest wound. “¦ Jefferson Davis, it’s time for you to go.”
Also Tuesday, Minority Leader Harry Reid said the mascot and nickname of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas—the Runnin’ Rebels—should be reconsidered by the school’s Board of Regents. The school is well aware of its branding’s ties to the Confederacy.